It’s a symbolic end of an era for me. My passport is due to expire soon! When I got my passport almost ten years ago, it was for a trip with my high-school group to Spain. As a 17-year old, traveling abroad for 10 days in a chaperoned group without parents was the most freedom I had ever had growing up. I remember it being an exciting and scary experience. I remember over-packing (bringing a suitcase that weighed almost 50 lbs for a short trip!). I also remember the feeling of excitement and nervousness I had while leaving the plane and entering a foreign airport for the first time.
Now, almost a decade later, my passport is almost absolutely full! While there are many stamps, the real space-fillers are the visas. These stickers occupy whole pages. Because of a few trips to Russia and one to China, I only have two half pages that are totally free from stamps and visas. My passport expires in 11 months, but many countries (Russia specifically) requires that passports have a few pages free and at least six months validity when applying for visas, which makes my passport renewal timeline a little more urgent.
I am excited and nostalgic about getting a new passport. My passport is a keeper of memories. It has been there for me without fail all over the world for the past decade. It has documented my travels from Argentina to Japan. It has even documented a funny mistake my friends and I made in a German airport. A group of four of us were walking through passport control. Unbeknownst to us, we were in the wrong line. Two of us went through the wrong line successfully, however, when the third tried to pass, the border control officer realized his mistake. He ushered us back through the little gate and crossed out the stamps he made in our passports with a pen. We were then sent back to another passport control line. So now, I have one German entry stamp and two German exit stamps.
Another reason I will miss my old passport is because, honestly, my new passport photo is very unflattering. So unflattering, that a few days after I took my passport photo at CVS, I returned to a CVS at a different location to take new pictures because I looked so horrible in the first pictures. But… the second set of pictures that I took turned out to be even less flattering than the first and I ended up sending the first photos in with my passport renewal application… if only the State Department accepted selfies….
Regardless of how I feel about my new passport photo, I’m excited to get a new passport and this time also a passport card! New journeys await and if the next ten years are anything like the last ten years, then I hope to receive my new passport soon to let the adventures begin! Where will the next ten years take you, Dear Reader?